Change of Members at the BCG Education Fund Board of Trustees

The following two announcements were written by the folks at the Board for Certification of Genealogists:

Announcement – Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG, retires from BCG Education Fund

After eight years of volunteer service, Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG, of Charlotte, North Carolina, has retired from the BCG Education Fund Board of Trustees. From 2007 through 2014, Kathy was the Education Fund Secretary and streamlined its administrative procedures. She led the Trustees in planning and executing its programs, which are the annual Putting Skills To Work, the biannual Helen F. M. Leary Distinguished Lecture Series, and the Mosher Award for Colonial Virginia Research. She secured exclusive one-year rights for the Education Fund to outstanding lectures by Thomas W. Jones and Elizabeth Shown Mills. She promoted incorporating additional topics into the Education Fund’s offerings, such as law, proof arguments, and genetics. In 2015, Kathy stepped forward to serve as Treasurer pro tem. Her forward thinking and organizational skills contributed to the Education Fund’s substantial presence in genealogical education.

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Announces Appointment of Christopher C. Child as Editor of the Mayflower Descendant

The following announcement was written by the folks at the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

Christopher C. ChildAugust 19, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—Christopher C. Child, Senior Genealogist of the Newbury Street Press at New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), has been named editor of the Mayflower Descendant, the Society announced today. Child is an award-winning genealogist and author of important published studies of American family history. He will begin his assignment as editor with the winter 2016 issue of the journal, the first to be published by NEHGS, while retaining his responsibilities with Newbury Street Press.

Last week NEHGS announced that, as the result of an agreement with the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants (MSMD), NEHGS will assume a ten-year stewardship of the Mayflower Descendant. First published in 1899 by George Ernest Bowman, under the auspices of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, the journal is one of the most highly respected scholarly journals in the field of genealogy. NEHGS plans to continue twice-a-year publication, winter and summer, available by subscription.

In making the announcement of Child’s appointment, Penny Stratton, NEHGS Publishing Director, stated “Chris Child is an excellent choice for this new position, poised to bring his well-articulated vision of genealogical scholarship to this very important journal.”

Do You Speak Like Your Ancestors? If You are from Raleigh, the Answer is “Probably Not.”

For more than half a century, the familiar Southern accent has been fading in Raleigh, North Carolina. Its disappearance has been so slow and so subtle that locals may not even have noticed. But for Robin Dodsworth, an associate professor in sociolinguistics at NC State, the decline tells the story of rapid social change across the urban South.

Dodsworth discovered that the vowels of speakers born between 1920 and 1950 were remarkably stable. Then, in the middle of the 20th century, Southern linguistic features began to steadily decline. But why?

Another Interesting Obituary: Dorothy McElhaney

I have published several humorous obituaries in past newsletters. However, a newly-published obit for 104-year-old Dorothy McElhaney is interesting for different reasons. Obviously written by Dorothy before her death, it is more of a celebration of her life.

You can read the obituary at

Donald Trump and Immigration

The U.S. news services are full of stories about Donald Trump’s campaign to become President. His stand on immigration is one of his more controversial ideas. Generally speaking, Trump seems to be against immigration. That seems surprising as his mother, Mary MacLeod Trump, was born in Scotland. His grandfather, Frederick Christ Trump, was born in Germany. His first wife Ivana was born in Czechoslovakia, his current wife Melania was born in Yugoslavia.

As Kimberly Powell writes on, “Donald Trump epitomizes the American immigrant experience.”

FamilySearch International Appoints Steve Rockwood as President and CEO to Replace Dennis Brimhall Who Will Retire

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

The FamilySearch International board of directors has elected Stephen T. Rockwood as the company’s president and chief executive officer, succeeding Dennis Brimhall, who will retire. Rockwood, who most recently served as director of the international division at FamilySearch, becomes president and CEO on October 1.

“Steve is an extremely capable, experienced, and respected leader with an immense passion for our mission and our people,” said Elder Allan F. Packer, Chairman of the Board. “As president and CEO, Steve will bring a rich combination of management skills, customer focus, business acumen, and a can-do spirit that will build on the vision and work of Dennis Brimhall.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Proposes in a Church Where His German Ancestors Worshipped

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. proposed last week to Amy Reimann. He picked the perfect place: in a church where his 10th grandfather — Hamman Ehrenhart — and other ancestors attended.

Earnhardt is on a trip to Germany to learn more about his roots. (See my earlier article about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s trip at Earnhardt and Reimann went to the city of Speyer, Germany, and saw the names of his ancestors written in books detailing their births and deaths and confirming they had been baptized at that particular church. Earnhardt said the church apparently is more than 1,000 years old in a town of 300. He knew it was the perfect spot to ask Reimann to marry him after a six-year courtship.

The wedding date likely will be sometime next summer.

Allen Weinstein, Former Archivist of the U.S., R.I.P.

Allen Weinstein, the ninth Archivist of the United States, died June 18 at a nursing home in Gaithersburg, Md. He was 77.

Dr. Weinstein served from 2005 until 2008 as chief of the National Archives and Records Administration. As archivist, he ended secret agreements with the CIA and the Air Force by which thousands of declassified documents had been removed from public view. “We’re in the access business,” Dr. Weinstein said, “not the classification business.” Dr. Weinstein resigned in 2008 as he struggled with Parkinson’s disease.

Weinstein had previously established himself as an academic, with professorships at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., Georgetown University and Boston University. Outside academia, he held leadership roles at nonprofit institutions — most notably the Center for Democracy in Washington, which he founded in the mid-1980s and led as president until 2003.

A Genealogist Traces Rachel Dolezal’s Ancestry and Finds No Black Relatives

Rachel Dolezal has recently stirred up a controversy concerning he ancestry. She resigned Monday as head of her local NAACP chapter after reports surfaced that she was born white yet has claimed she is black. If you are not familiar with this recent news story that has been on all the news networks, start at to find a few hundred reports about her recent controversy. Now a professional genealogist says that Dolezal’s claim is bogus.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Explore Earnhardt Roots in Germany

It’s nice to see a celebrity become interested in researching his or her own family tree. On Monday, after competing in this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will fly to Germany in hopes of tracing his family’s lineage, which dates to more than three centuries ago there.

“I’ve got some specific areas narrowed down I want to go see and some buildings I want to go see that I know my family was somewhat connected to,” Earnhardt told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday during an appearance for Amp Energy. “They left Germany in 1744, so all this stuff we’re going to see or get close to is more than 300 years old.”

You can read the article by Jeff Gluck in USA Today at

BCG Honors Bamman and Melchiori with Emeritus Status

The following announcement was written by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG):

At the May meeting, the trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists honored two former associates who had long and distinguished careers with Emeritus status. “The Board is building on the foundations and on the contributions of our former associates,” said BCG president Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. “We are pleased to grant Emeritus status to Gale Williams Bamman and Marie Varrelman Melchiori. We are grateful for their years of service, their contributions to the genealogical community, and their deep experience and expertise.”

Elaine Spires Smith Family History Writing Award

The following announcement was written by the Indiana Genealogical Society:

The Indiana Genealogical Society is proud to announce John P. Deeben, Genealogy Archives Specialist at the National Archives, as the 2015 Elaine Spires Smith Family History Writing Award recipient for his article, “Marching Towards Tippecanoe: Indiana Militia Service During the Wabash Expedition, 11 September to 24 November, 1811.” This article was published in the September 2014 issue of Indiana Genealogist, a quarterly publication of the Indiana Genealogical Society. A $500 contribution has been made to the National Archives Trust Fund in honor of John and his work.

Ruth C. Bishop, R.I.P.

The genealogy community recently lost an enthusiastic genealogist and benefactor. Ruth Chauncey Bishop passed away May 28 at the age of 70.

Ruth helped support several genealogy organizations, including the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Ruth was honored when the society’s sixth floor reading room in Boston was named for her. She served on the Society’s Board of Trustees for six years.

World War II Spitfire Pilot Takes His Legacy Online

What will people know about you after you die? Some people are going a step further, and creating a virtual “shoeboxes” of family photographs, love letters, marriage certificates, priceless video clips and key documents, in an attempt to preserve their most precious memories.

One such person is Brian Bird, a former World War II Spitfire pilot who has lived a long, exciting – and at times terrifying – life. Now, at the age of 90, he is embarking on one of his most important missions, to create a digital record for his family to remember him by after his death.

Scottish Genealogist Dr Bruce Durie Receives Prestigious Fulbright Award

The following announcement was written by the Fulbright Commission:

Dr. Bruce Durie, internationally recognized as one of Scotland’s top genealogists, has been granted the prestigious Fulbright Scottish Studies Scholar Award. This will enable him to spend seven months research and teaching at an American University, on one of the most prestigious and selective scholarship programmes operating world-wide.

Dr. Durie will be researching Lowland Scots migration to the Carolinas, and teaching classes on Scottish Genealogy, Culture and History at St Andrews University, Laurinburg, North Carolina, from January to July 2016.

Commenting on receiving the award, Dr. Durie said:

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fulfill a longstanding ambition. So much of Scottish-American migration is told in terms of the Highland and the Ulster Scots. But Lowlanders probably predominated in the early days of the settlement of that part of America, and subsequently.

Robert “Bob” John Szucs, R.I.P.

Bob Szucs was well known within the genealogy community. He traveled to dozens of genealogy conferences with his wife Lou Szucs who is a popular genealogy lecturer, writer, board member of many organizations over the years, and recently retired as a vice president of She was Employee #1 at Ancestry, having started with the small book publisher some time before it ever launched its first web site.

Bob Szucs usually stayed in the background when accompanying his wife to genealogy events but a few of us got to know this quiet and modest man. He and a few others, myself included, had a tradition of “ducking out” of an event for a short period of time to jump into an automobile together to find the best local ice cream shop in every city that hosted a national genealogy event. We usually succeeded.

Bob Szucs passed away on April 23. His obituary mentions his wife Lou, his daughter Juliana (also well-known in the genealogy community), three other daughters, and ten grandchildren. It also lists his many professional accomplishments. I never knew that Bob held a number of patents. He didn’t talk much about his many accomplishments.

The Birth Certificate of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge

You won’t see many birth certificates like this one, at least not in my family. The father and mother of the newborn child have occupations listed as “prince” and “princess.”

Click on the image above to view a larger version. Board Member Dave Goldberg Dies in Freak Accident

Dave Goldberg was a high-energy individual with many talents. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard and spending a few years at consulting firm Bain & Company and at Capitol Records, Goldberg struck out on his own in the early 1990s. He founded Launch Media, one of the first companies to venture into streaming music online. He then became chief executive of SurveyMonkey in 2009 and is credited with taking it from a 12-employee company to a 500-employee enterprise valued at $2 billion.

Goldberg later became a member of the Board of Directors of “For someone who was involved in so many things, there was never a time that I felt a call or e-mail to Dave was an inconvenience to him,” said Tim Sullivan, chief executive of (According to Sullivan, Goldberg was a user long before he joined the company. He liked to explore his family history with his mother, Paula.)

Kim and Khloe Kardashian Visit their Ancestors’ Homeland

I wrote about the Kardashian family’s genealogy earlier at This family certainly is not my favorite group of personalities but I find the story of their ancestors’ hardships and persecution fascinating, regardless of the antics of present-day family members. Kim and Khloe Kardashian also seem interested as they visited their ancestors’ homeland of Armenia this week.

Ancestry’s Employee Number One, Retires: Ode to Lou Szucs

One of the greats of the genealogy world is retiring. Lou Szucs say she is going to use her free time to work on her own genealogy, something that has been difficult to do as she was busy being a vice-president of Ancestry. She joined the company in 1982 as employee number one and has helped convert the company from a tiny publisher of genealogy books into the online powerhouse it is today.

I was going to write a tribute to Lou for this newsletter. Then I read the tribute written by Kristie Wells in the Ancestry Blog. I cannot write anything better than that.

I strongly recommend you read Ancestry’s Employee Number One, Retires: Ode to Lou Szucs at


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